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MLS legend predicts heated skills challenge

Five-time Major League Soccer All-Star legend Alexi Lalas reckons the American league and Liga MX’s skills challenge will be thrilling and that a future merger is “not out of the realm of possibility.”

MLS and Liga MX are set to meet on 25 August for the first ever cross-league All-Star match at Banc of California stadium. One day prior, eight players from each league will compete in the two-hour 2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge. 

The Skills event will be composed of five different challenges: Passing, crossbar, cross & volley, touch and shooting obstacles. Major League Soccer rivals Carlos Vela and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez have already committed to be part of the eight-man league squad for the event. 

Lalas doesn’t think the challenges will come easy to any player who expects a landslide. 

“These players aren’t great without reason. And part of that reason is the incredible confidence and ego that they have,” Lalas said.

“They don’t like to be shown up in any type of capacity. And the competitive juices will start flowing very quickly to represent yourself, represent your team, represent your league, represent your country and all those different things. I have no doubt that they would manifest in any type of competition. If they were playing cards, the same thing would happen.”

Beyond the skills challenge, Lalas commented on the possibility of this competition turning into something greater in the future. Throughout the planning process, league directors have received questions about a possible merger, and each response adds that it is not out of the realm of possibility. 

“I mean, a lot of the questions today were “Where does this end up?” And a lot of people obviously are talking about a potential merging and big league type of stuff. I don’t think that that’s out of the realm of possibility. But I do think that these types of things certainly can be looked at as a harbinger for more growth and more potential involvement between the two.”

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